Consume Only W.H.O-Recommended ORS During Dehydration, Doctors’ Warning Against Sugary Drinks

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ORS is a straightforward yet highly effective method to replenish these lost fluids & electrolytes, preventing complications & aiding faster recovery, especially in young children

May 29, 2024 – Amid the severe heatwaves and sweltering temperatures, there is a rise in heat-related illnesses in several parts of India. The country, with its scorching summers, faces a critical challenge of combating dehydration, particularly among children, where diarrhoea ranks as the third leading cause of mortality.

Despite Oral Rehydration Salts (ORS) being an essential medicine, recent NFHS-5 data shows that only 60.6 percent of children with diarrhoea receive ORS, highlighting the need for increased awareness and proper utilization.

During a media briefing, Dr. Pankaj Garg, President-Elect, Indian Academy of Pediatrics, Delhi Chapter & Senior Consultant, Neonatology, Sir Gangaram Hospital, New Delhi highlighted the essential role of Oral Rehydration Solution (ORS) in managing diarrhoea and dehydration in children.

“Diarrhoea leads to quick fluid loss, electrolyte imbalances, and dehydration. ORS is a straightforward yet highly effective method to replenish these lost fluids and electrolytes, preventing complications and aiding faster recovery, especially in young children. It’s crucial to recognize that ORS is both safe and effective. Using incorrect salt or sugar mixtures can be harmful. Proper management of dehydration requires an exact balance of water and electrolytes. Using incorrect homemade solutions or sugary drinks can disrupt this balance, causing severe health risks like worsening dehydration or even death in extreme cases,” Dr. Garg said.

He also revealed that various “ORS-like” products are available in the market which can worsen the symptoms especially among children. Recognizable brands like Prolyte ORS, Dr Morepen ORS, or ORS Walyte, ORS adhere to these standards, offering a safe and effective way to combat dehydration, he informed.

Meanwhile,Dr Mohsin Wali, Padma Shri, Consultant Physician Sir Ganga Ram Hospitalhighlights the necessity of selecting the appropriate ORS with increasing temperatures and demand.

“Choosing the right ORS is crucial for effectively managing diarrhoea and dehydration, especially during the hot summer months. It’s essential to distinguish between ORS and sugary drinks available commercially. While these beverages may offer some electrolytes and fluids, they lack the critical glucose-sodium and potassium balance necessary for rapid and effective rehydration. Sugary drinks may provide temporary relief but do not address the core issue of dehydration. Therefore, opting for WHO-approved ORS formulations, which are specifically designed for this purpose, is vital for maintaining overall health and ensuring quick recovery, particularly in vulnerable populations such as children,” Dr. Wali said while addressing the media.

ORS remains under-prescribed in India; 50 percent of children with diarrhea did not receive this lifesaving treatment

The experts emphasised that it is critical to make informed choices. When faced with dehydration, prioritize WHO-approved ORS solutions over other sugar-laden drinks unsuitable for treating dehydration.

According to the doctors, by understanding the benefits of ORS and its appropriate use, we can empower individuals and families to become heroes of their own health, particularly during the hot summer months. This knowledge can help save the lives of thousands of children every year, they said.

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